Printer Friendly

Aluminum rising.

Aluminum has surpassed iron and taken the number-two spot on the list of materials used in automobiles worldwide. So reports the Auto & Light Truck Group of the Aluminum Association (; Washington, DC), based on a study conducted for it by Ducker Worldwide (; Troy, MI). Looking at North America in particular, there is an average of 319 lb. of aluminum used in light vehicles, up 16% since 2002. When North America, the European Union and Japan are combined, the average content will be 279 lb. in '06 versus 225 lb. in 2000.

The primary application areas for aluminum are the powertrain, driveline, wheels, and heat exchangers. According to Misha Riveros-Jacobson, president, Alcoa Advanced Transportation Systems (; Cleveland), "Europe leads the pace" in innovative applications of aluminum. She points out that the aluminum content for the average European vehicle, absent those just-mentioned applications, is 69 lb., and it is no more than 54 lb. for North American vehicles. Both regions lead Japan, where the '06 vehicles would have 30 lb. of aluminum content other than those aforementioned applications. Overall, however, North American vehicles lead, with an average 319 lb. total, and 259 lb. for European Union and 251 lb. for Japanese vehicles. (One might argue that the cars in both the European Union and Japan tend to be smaller than North American vehicles.)

Some of the applications where European vehicle manufacturers are focusing aluminum application, Riveros-Jacobson cites, are bodies-in-white, instrument panels and enclosure panels. Looking at the last-named: there are nearly 140 enclosure panel programs underway in Europe, according to the Ducker study, and about 40 each in both North America and Japan.

While aluminum has taken the second position, it is still a long away behind steel, which has an average content per vehicle of 1,800 lb.


Asked who within North American auto companies needs to be convinced of the benefits of aluminum, Riveros-Jacobson answers that it has to be vehicle program managers. She explains that if the discussion is centered on just the bill-of-materials rather than on overall innovation, then aluminum is going to have "an uphill climb" because what needs to be taken into account is not just piece cost, but "value to the total system."

Some vehicle manufacturers must be convinced. The association reports that there are nearly 50 models being built in '06 that represent two million units of production that will contain over 500 lb. of aluminum. Of those vehicles, about 100,000 will have complete aluminum body structures.--GSV
COPYRIGHT 2006 Gardner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
Previous Article:Less talk, more action.
Next Article:The importance of investment in technology.

Related Articles
Aluminum adds flex to metallic glass.
Foundry recycling could profit by aluminum's success.
Expectations melt in aluminum market. (Non Ferrous).
Upturn forecast for second half of '02, 3% growth expected. (Casting Market Trends).
Aluminum: the answer in the safety vs. fuel economy debate?
Domestic competitiveness: investigating U.S. casting costs: as a first in a three-part series, this article reviews data revealed by the U.S. ITC...
Piling on: after lagging behind some other metals, aluminum has charged into a bull run of its own.
Aluminum cans.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters